Foundation Staff

Debbie Hesse, Executive Director

Debbie Hesse joined the USA Swimming Foundation in November 2010, bringing 25 years of aquatic sports experience in fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, public relations, non-profit management and volunteer leadership.

Over the past two years, Hesse has led efforts to strengthen the infrastructure of the USA Swimming Foundation, allowing the organization to provide a full range of fundraising programs to identify and attract the broadest possible base of support for the Foundation’s projects and programs. She has re-articulated the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation, and led strategic planning efforts to ensure that the Foundation is effectively working toward achieving its aggressive goals.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Debbie was President/CEO of USA Diving, the national governing body for that sport. During her tenure, she presided over a membership increase of 32 percent, and laid the foundation for a strong and successful U.S. diving program. In 2012, the U.S. Olympic Diving Team garnered four medals at the Olympic Games, after failing to earn medals in either of their two previous Olympic efforts.

Hesse's Olympic experience also includes serving as Executive Director of USA Synchronized Swimming, where she increased the annual budget by more than 250% in seven years, driven primarily by dramatic corporate partner revenue growth.

After beginning her career at Proctor & Gamble, Hesse went on to serve in several different roles within the aquatic industry. Hesse has also served as President/CEO of Special Olympics Indiana.

Hesse received a B.A. in Business and Marketing from Texas A&M University, where she served as co-captain of the swim team. She has been recognized as one of Indianapolis “40 Under 40” honorees, and currently serves on the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic Assembly Committee and USOC’s Foundation's Task Force.

  • Oversee day-to-day Foundation activities to advance the Foundation’s mission and objectives
  • Serve as national spokesperson for Foundation
  • Lead and manage Foundation staff and fundraising efforts
  • Create and implement strategic plan for Foundation and Make a Splash
  • Coordinate Foundation’s programs with USA Swimming staff, including Make a Splash, Swim-a-Thon™ and   Golden Goggles.  

Hesse lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with her two daughters Gabriella and Hannah.   

To contact Debbie, click here.



Casey Keiber, Director of Major Gifts

Cassandra "Casey" Keiber joined the USA Swimming Foundation in November 2014 as the Director of MajorKeiber Headshot (Small) Gifts. Casey's love for athletics began at the age of nine when she started swimming competitively. A two-time PA State Champion swimmer and six time high school All-American, Casey also competed at the 1992 Olympic Trials at the age of 14 in the 100 meter breaststroke and was a Varsity letter winner and member of the Penn State swim team. 

Casey served as a Major Gifts Officer for Penn State Athletics for five years, playing an important role in surpassing the $300M fundraising goal for the For the Future Campaign, The Campaign for Penn State Students. Prior to that, she held positions at the Penn State Alumni Association as an Event and Program Planner (4 years) and Assistant Director of Student Involvement (2 years).  

Casey holds two Master’s Degrees – Higher Education Administration and Clinical Mental Health Counseling (Penn State) with a focus in Student-Athlete Development.  In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her yellow lab Izzy and being out in the CO sunshine.  

Email:  Phone: 719.866.3614 

Nicole Wilson, Annual Fund Manager 

Nicole Wilson serves as the Annual Fund Manager for the USA Swimming Foundation. 

She beganNicole Wilson (small) swimming competitively at age seven and was involved with the sport both as an age-group coach and swimming instructor. Born and raised in Southern California, she earned her BS in Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and her MA in English from Cal State Long Beach. Prior to coming to the USA Swimming Foundation, she worked in fundraising, event planning, and communications, most recently at UC Irvine and at the University of Michigan.  

As the Annual Fund Manager, Nicole works to craft and share the stories of the USA Swimming Foundation. She creates communication campaigns and events designed to increase awareness of, and support for, the foundation’s activities. As a new resident of Colorado, Nicole is looking forward to skiing, hiking, and exploring all the opportunities the state offers.


Email:  Phone: 719.866.3583


Tina Dessart, Make a Splash program Manager

Tina Dessart is the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Program Manager. Tina is a 25+ yearTina Dessart (Small) veteran in aquatics management and learn-to-swim instruction who has also done both age group and Masters coaching. Tina is the owner and director of the Colorado Springs Swim School and has been active in the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Initiative, participating as a Local Partner, since 2009. In addition to her swim school, Tina is co-owner of Swim Colorado, Inc, an aquatic facilities management company which saved three City of Colorado Springs aquatic facilities from closure.

As the Make a Splash Program Manager, Tina’s role is to provide strategic oversight, direction, creativity and coordination for the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative and associated efforts.

Tina is responsible for building and fostering relationships which allow for collaborative efforts in support of water safety education and drowning prevention at the national level; these strategic partnerships provide resources, materials, and funding which aid the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative in providing the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim.

Tina is an Air Force Brat, and was a Division I distance and 400 IM swimmer at Bowling Green State University, OH where she earned her BA in Mathematics. Tina and her husband, Kevin, have lived in Colorado Springs since 2001 and have three children.


Email:   Phone: 719.866.3520


Harriett Gunderson, Make a Splash Coordinator

Harriett serves as the Make a Splash Coordinator for the USA Swimming Foundation. In this role, Harriett Gunderson (Small)oversees the Local Partner program and manages the annual Make a Splash grant program. Prior to joining the Make a Splash team in November of 2011, Harriett spent five years working in Aquatics with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. Harriett graduated from Cornell College where she received a Bachelor’s of Arts and played on the soccer team. Harriett lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Eric. In her spare time she likes to hike, watch sports, and bake.


Email:  Phone: 719.866.3546 



Carol Arnold, foundation coordinator

A native of southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, Carol launched her post-education career after her move to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1979. Six years working as a Citicorp mortgage loan officer and two kids later, Carol Arnold Headshot (Small)became a mostly stay-at-home mom until returning to the workforce fulltime in 1999. Earning a securities license, she spent the next seven years working in the investment management industry before coming onboard with the USA Swimming Foundation in January of 2007. Carol and her husband of 36 years enjoy spending their free time with their three young grandchildren and playing in the Gunnison River Valley of south-central Colorado.

  • Assistant to Executive Director
  • Swim-a-Thon program and promotions
  • 3rd party Foundation fundraising
  • Coordinate National Team Alumni materials and events
  • Website management
  • Support Foundation ambassadors

Email:  Phone: 719.866.3235


Jill Johnson, Database Coordinator

Jill Johnson serves as the Database Coordinator for the USA Swimming Foundation. Johnson administersJill Johnson (Small) and manages the Raiser's Edge database for the organization. She manages the overall donation process and is responsible for all entry, maintenance and extraction of data to ensure a high level of functionality within the organization. Serving as support for the Director of Development, Jill assists with the Foundation's annual fund campaign including direct mail, lists and reports. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jill worked as a database administrator for EnCana Oil & Gas. Johnson graduated from Metropolitan College of Denver with a Bachelors degree in Applied Mathematics and a minor in Accounting. 

  • Constituent and Donor record management
  • Donations and Recurring Gift management 

Email:  Phone: 719.866.3587


Rowdy Gaines, foundation ambassador

  • Make a Splash Tour co-host
  • Donor development and cultivation
  • Golden Goggles weekend


Mel Stewart, national team alumni ambassador

  • Coordinate/co-host alumni engagement activities/Alumni Reunions
  • Create alumni newsletters
  • Create alumni copy for foundation e-newsletter
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